Today I thought I'd do something a little different and tell you a story about beautiful Muskoka, Ontario. Muskoka is a beautiful area at any time of year, but especially in autumn. Forests stretch for miles, loons call from a lake and moose, black bear and other wonderful animals live there. It is a remote area with small villages and towns and very friendly people. Now, to the Muskoka Mystery.
Muskoka is a beautiful scenic area north of Toronto, Ontario. Here is a map of the area.
I've visited Muskoka several times over the years and would visit again in a minute. Crystal clear, sparkling lakes that are great for fishing and lovely to photograph, thick, dense forests and wonderful people make the area feel like home.
Earlier this year, the TV program, W5, aired a segment called, Mystery of Muskoka. It seems that four seniors disappeared from the area between 1998 and 1999. All of the seniors shared a common thread - all suffered from mental illness and were pretty much alone in the world. Not a trace of any one of them has ever been found.
All four of these seniors had one other thing in common. They were all connected to a family named Laans, who ran Christian senior residences in Huntsville, Ontario. Three of the seniors, all men, lived in one of these homes. The one woman of the group lived in a garden shed on the Laans property. She was well known in the area as the Cat Lady. It seems she took in and fed dozens of stray cats.
The names of the missing are as follows:
Joan Lawrence aka the Cat Lady - age 77
John Crofts - age 70
Ralph Grant - age 69
John Semple - age 89
It seems the Laan siblings liked money. In 2003 and 2004, they were convicted for embezzling money from the seniors they professed to help. When seniors died, the Laans siblings continued to deposit their pension checks into their own bank accounts. They also deposited checks for Crofts, Grant and Semple into their accounts and never reported them missing.
After all these years, the whereabouts of the four seniors is still unknown. What happened to them? How could they vanish off the face of the Earth without someone knowing?
As I stated earlier, there is lots of thick, dense forests in the Muskoka area. Did all four of these seniors wander into the bush never to be seen again? Did they die of natural causes and if so, what became of their remains? Were the seniors killed and if so, who killed them?
So many questions and no answers in sight. The Ontario Provincial Police have been looking for these answers for almost a decade. What dark mysteries does the Muskoka wilderness hold beneath all of its beauty? Will it one day give up the answer to all of these questions? For the benefit of the seniors' families, I certainly hope so.